Vikash Sharma

Is the recent reshuffle in the Odisha Cabinet a planned strategy to checkmate the BJP and strengthen BJD’s organisation ahead of the crucial 2024 elections? Such speculations are rife as BJD supremo picked experienced and seasoned leaders from western, northern, and southern pockets instead of giving prominence to women or youth leaders.

Such a move is also said to bring a new balance to the existing Council of Ministers. Mainly, BJD’s focus was on Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, and Ganjam.

Also Read: Odisha Cabinet reshuffle: Bikram Keshari Arukha, Sudam Marndi and Sarada Nayak sworn in as Ministers

The reason being Jual Oram is the BJP MP from Sundargarh and the saffron party has 3 MLAs in the district. Hence, to checkmate the BJP, the BJD has included Sharada Nayak in the Cabinet.

“In the Panchayat polls, we won 33 out of 35 Zilla Parishad zones and lost two and the margin was minor. In Sundargarh, the party’s position has been strengthened,” said Nayak.

If we look at Mayurbhanj, the BJP is in an advantageous position with Bisweswar Tudu, who is now a Union Minister. Out of the nine Assembly constituencies, BJP has 6 MLAs. After Droupadi Murmu was appointed President of India, BJD has now roped in Sudam Marndi apprehending tribal votes might shift to the BJP.

As the tribals constitute nearly 22 percent in the state including from Sundagarh and Mayurbhanj, the BJD has laid emphasis on tribal-dominated areas during the reshuffle.

“BJP is not comparable with BJD. In the last Panchayat election, out of the 56 Zilla Parishad seats, BJP did not win a single seat in Mayurbhanj,” said Marndi.

Also Read:Odisha Cabinet reshuffle: Supporters dissatisfied after Susanta Singh denied ministerial berth

As BJD’s dominance and base are dwindling in Ganjam in view of a leadership crisis following the illness of Surya Patro and the expulsion of Pradeep Panigrahi, BJD has picked heavyweight, Bikram Keshari Arukha for the Cabinet.

Speculations are rife that Arukha will look after the party affairs and organization in 13 constituencies of the district. BJD which is known for playing the ‘women card’ did not give any chance to women leaders in this cabinet rejig.

Similarly, no representation was from the coastal belt of the state, including the Puri Parliamentary segment. It is being said that as there are differences between Susanta Singh and newly-elected MLA Dipali Das, both of them were excluded.

“There is no infighting within BJD and there could be some differences. The organization is intact in Ganjam and it will be reflected in the next election,” said BJP MP, Chandrasekhar Sahu.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties have targeted the Odisha government after the cabinet reshuffle.

Also Read:Odisha Cabinet reshuffle: Old wine in new bottle, alleges Opposition

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